15 NBA legends who never won Rookie of the Year

The 2024 NBA Draft will hopefully feature a new generation of stars but only one can win Rookie of the Year and here are 15 NBA legends who never won the award.
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In the annals of NBA history, certain luminaries have left an indelible mark not only through their exceptional skills but also through their enduring legacies. Despite their eventual greatness, some of these basketball icons did not receive the Rookie of the Year award during their inaugural seasons in the league.

The following examples underscore a crucial aspect of NBA history: greatness transcends individual awards. While the Rookie of the Year honor recognizes early achievement, it does not dictate the trajectory of a player's career. Without further ado, let's take a look at 15 NBA legends who didn't win Rookie of the Year.

15) Dominique Wilkins

Dominique Wilkins was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the third overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft but was traded to the Atlanta Hawks before the start of the 1982-83 season after he refused to play for the Jazz. Wilkins wasted little time proving the Hawks right for acquiring him and showing why he was a top-three draft pick. In his NBA debut, he scored 23 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and recorded three steals against the Detroit Pistons. 

He enjoyed a solid rookie campaign while showcasing his athleticism and versatility as a scorer. He topped 30 points five times and recorded 12 doubles while averaging 17.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while starting all 82 games. Despite ranking third among all rookies in points per game and fourth in rebounds per game, Wilkins didn’t receive a single Rookie of the Year vote. Still, his efforts earned him a selection to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.